State Department Officials Signal Moves towards Recognizing November Elections in Honduras

Washington, D.C. — Although the official policy of the Obama administration is that it will not recognize next month’s elections in Honduras if democracy is not restored first, it became clear last week that some State Department officials are undermining this position and signaling that the U.S. could accept the results of the November 29 elections as valid.  A Time Magazine article on Friday cited the comments of anonymous U.S. diplomats and an email that signal that officials in the State Department are undermining the official position toward the elections.

“The Obama administration should immediately and forcefully clear up any doubts about its position on the November 29 elections,” Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said.  “The stated position supports democratic institutions, civil liberties, and the rule of law, but some State Department officials seem ready to sacrifice all of this.

“These diplomats inexplicably suggest that elections being carried out under an illegal dictatorship that has suspended civil rights, raided and shut down independent media outlets, and continues to brutally beat and arrest peaceful demonstrators would somehow be legitimate.  They are looking for a way to reverse the Obama administration’s position and recognize these elections, without isolating the United States from the rest of the hemisphere.”

On September 28, State Department officials representing the United States blocked the Organization of American States (OAS) from adopting a resolution on Honduras that would have refused to recognize Honduran elections carried out under the dictatorship.  This also appears to contradict the stated position of the Obama administration not to recognize such elections, and also its willingness to work with the OAS.  On September 2, State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly answered a question on the U.S. position on the November elections by saying, “We’re still focused on our main goal, which is the restoration of the democratic and constitutional order; in other words, the return of President Zelaya.  We’re still trying to do whatever we can to try and reach that end.  But we will want to work very closely with our partners in the OAS and the region.”

While the coup regime in Honduras claims to have lifted an emergency decree suspending constitutional rights, media reports and eyewitness accounts continue to note ongoing crackdowns on pro-Zelaya demonstrations.  The regime was also widely condemned for shutting down the broadcasts of independent media outlets such as Radio Globo and Canal 36.

A growing list of countries and international bodies, such as UNASUR, have decided not to recognize the planned November 29 elections, and the European Union has announced it will not send observers to monitor what it considers an invalid process.  The UN also announced it will not provide electoral assistance.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that was established to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives.

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